Out with the old and in with the new — Optus Stadium was transformed today from football ground to cricket field.
A little more than a week after the stadium hosted the WAFL grand final and the Eagles preliminary final, five giant slabs of turf were lifted out of the centre of the ground and replaced with clay-based cricket pitches.
The process was painstakingly slow as a 40-tonne wicket transporter crawled across the outfield and one by one removed and replaced 25-tonne sections of the centre wicket block.
WACA turf manager Nathan Saville said it was similar to how drop-in cricket pitches were prepared and installed at other grounds around Australia.
“The machine comes in over the top and there is a hydraulic lift,” he said. “It lifts up the wickets that are prepared in trays in our nursery and places them in the holes where the other turf has been removed.”
The clay pitches are prepared and maintained at a nursery just outside stadium.
The process is a full-time job for WACA ground staff who ensure the pitches are in optimal condition before the move.
“The biggest thing for us when we move the wickets in is making sure the moisture content is right,” Mr Saville said.
“We can test moisture content and we don’t want them too dry when we lift them up.
“The grass here is exactly the same as the WACA, the clay is the same and we are trying to replicate how the WACA performs.”
Mr Saville said the trays of regular, sand-based turf that were removed from the ground yesterday would be kept and maintained until next year.
“We take them out to where the clay ones were in the nursery and then we swap them back for footy,” he said.
“A fair bit of planning goes into this and we only get one crack at it. This will make our summer if we do it right.”
Source, Image & More: https://thewest.com.au/